Air New Zealand Group General Manager International Airline Ed Sims says the families of two of the missing people will leave Auckland tonight accompanied by members of the airline's Special Assistance Team.

"Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe is due to land in Perpignan around 5am NZ time tomorrow accompanied by the family of one engineer, representatives from the airline's security, safety investigations, A320 fleet and communications divisions. Also travelling with him are representatives from the New Zealand Police, NZ Airline Pilots Association and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission.

"They will join Air New Zealand Deputy Chief Executive Officer Norm Thompson, General Manager Europe Scott Carr and a team of seven from the airline's London office who arrived in Perpignan last night NZT to provide on the ground support to the search and rescue operation."

Mr Sims spoke to the head of the search and rescue operation within the last hour.

"I have been advised that every effort continues to be made to search for the missing people and recover wreckage. A team of ten specialist divers were due to enter the water at 8pm NZT today to retrieve the flight recorders, a critical step in the process of understanding what caused this tragic accident."

Ends

Note: Air New Zealand will issue its next media statement around 0800 tomorrow.

Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs

NOTE: The content of all Air New Zealand media releases are accurate at the time of issue, as stated at the top of each release. For updates on any changes, please contact Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is proud to be a member of Star Alliance. The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance to offer worldwide reach, recognition and seamless service to the international traveller. Its acceptance by the market has been recognised by numerous awards, including the Air Transport World Market Leadership Award, Best Airline Alliance by both Business Traveller Magazine and Skytrax. The member airlines are: Adria Airways, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue1, bmi, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways. Aegean Airlines, Air India, Brussels Airlines and TAM have been announced as future members. Overall, the Star Alliance network offers 19,500 daily flights to 1,071 airports in 171 countries.

For more information about Air New Zealand visit www.airnewzealand.com and for more information about Star Alliance visit www.staralliance.com.